Financial Advice in your 30’s
This blog may be my favorite one to write during our “age specific” financial advice blogs. That is because during the time of writing this I just turned 32 years old. So, I bring experience not only as an advisor but as a 30-year-old myself. I believe your 30’s are the time to pour the concrete for your financial foundation and set yourself up for success.
- Build a healthy relationship with money
Most of us spent our 20’s as broke college students. We lived off ramen noodles while studying though the night and never heard of a budget. Then, we graduated and felt the sting of student loans, rent, and even health insurance. All of this can create what we call an unhealthy relationship with our money.
Well, it’s time to shake that off because you’re in your 30’s now. Spend these years getting good at things like saving, investing, and learning about personal finance. There are so many books and online resources available now
The more you develop these skills the better foundation you will build, and you will begin developing a healthy relationship with your finances.
- Build an emergency fund (but do not go overboard)
This is always the first step in financial planning. Build yourself a cash reserve that can only be used in case of an emergency. The rule of thumb is 3-6 months of non-discretionary expenses. These are expenses that you cannot forgo like rent, mortgage, car payment, etc. If you are single with no dependents or married with two working spouses, the goal should be 3 months. On the flip side, if you are single with dependents or married and the only working spouse aim for 6 months.
However, do not go overboard. I have seen too many 30 somethings with an inexplicable amount of cash in savings accounts yielding nothing. Think of every dollar you have saved in cash over your emergency fund level as a wasted opportunity. Try to save and invest the cash you save in higher yielding equities (over the long term). One exception is if you are saving a significant purchase, for example a home, in the next 12 months or less.
- Do not become house poor
Speaking of buying a home, your 30’s will most likely be spent pondering this idea. The advice I will give here is buy something YOU can afford. Do not be what I call “house poor” where all your money goes to your mortgage. Sit down and calculate a mortgage you can pay off and still have enough to fund your lifestyle and build other assets.
Yes, a home is technically an asset, but if it is your only asset in retirement, you are in trouble. You cannot eat your crown molding (at least I don’t think you can). Also, it is rare that the first home you buy will be your last, so do not stress to much looking for your dream home.
- Save and invest outside of your 401(k)
Yes, a 401(k) is a great vehicle for building retirement assets, especially if your employer offers a match. However, it should not be the only type of savings/retirement account you are funding in your 30’s. Funding a Roth IRA is one of the best things a young person can do financially. Forgoing a tax deduction now for years of tax-free growth and withdrawals when taxes are sure to be higher is a great move.
In an ideal world, a person in their 30’s will contribute to their 401(k) enough to get the full employer match. Any excess beyond that should be parked in a Roth IRA (assuming you are under the income limits) up to the current maximum of $6,000/year.
- Seek out a professional
One of the biggest myths for younger investors is that they do not have enough money to work with a financial advisor. While some come with high minimums there are plenty that are willing to work with younger people just starting out.
Finding an advisor that you trust in your 30’s could make a tremendous difference in your long-term finances. Apart from advising on financial matters an advisor can act as a behavioral coach and help you avoid drastic mistakes with your money.
I recommend interviewing a few independent fiduciaries to find one who is the best fit for you.
If you are in your 30’s and are interested in speaking with an advisor, use my calendar to schedule a 15-minute consultation. I work with plenty of younger clients and would be happy to help you get started on your financial journey.